April 13, 2017
We had our first training day today. The kids didn't know what to expect. Considering the time frame and the amount of practices we will be having, our trainer understands the importance of what we are trying to accomplish here in a short amount of time. Practices here are different than back home. Everything is controlled by the trainer, every motion, every drill, warm up, etc. Before every practice starts, the students lineup in height order, tallest to smallest. The trainer speaks briefly, I'm assuming instructing the students about the practice and then the warm up starts. As the kids are jogging, Vitali, our trainer, gives instructions as to what the kids are to do during the warm up, each follows instructions. The warm up may last about 10-15 min that leads into a series of partner stretches/games before the practice begins.
Our first session consisted of a lot of mat wrestling. Mat wrestling meaning wrestling actions on the mat, Par Terre, near side cradle position, front head position. Each partner would have two min to work on the position with resistance, kind of like sparring. The kids rotated through three different partners for each position. There isn't much instruction and explanation of details, pretty much, get into the position and figure it out. Coaches are giving instructions as this is going on correcting position and mistakes. It's kind of a more free type of practice where the students have the ability to figure out what works best for them, but, position is always corrected if it's not perfect. Every once in a while you will hear a coach raise his voice because position wasn't how it was supposed to be. Our second session was similar to the first, except the focus was neutral wrestling. There was a free drill for about 10-15 min, the instructions were to work on leg attacks. Each partner would go three attacks before the other partner would go. This was a pretty high paced activity and the kids really broke a sweat here. The then focused on positions like high crotch, single legs with one knee in the mat, snatch single positions, all sparring situations.
Both sessions ended with full contact goes, six goes for 2 min, changing partners every time. As I watched the kids, it is evident we lack positioning. One of the kids said to me, "it's crazy how they can see things coming faster than we do.". I said, I don't know if they can see it, but it's definitely something they are feeling. They are used to sparring situations more than drilling techniques. Their actual penetration shots aren't too good, but once they get to a leg, they are going to score if the other doesn't counter first. Countering, something we aren't too good at, knowing how to score in these positions, offensively and defensively is important in international wrestling. One of the other students said to me, they don't really get into a stance much. I asked them, "well, if you don't need control to score points, is there a purpose to actually be in a stance?".
There are a lot of things that these kids will figure out and learn. Things they may take back with them. My goal is that they take back a different mentality to their training. To figure out that some things are more important than other things, positioning, nutrition, life long friendships. It was a cool thing to hear that the athletes hung out together in the apartment playing UNO with the Ukrainians. This is what it's about. Tomorrow we are back at it again. Another tough day of training to get through. Time change is definitely catching up to the kids as they are finding it difficult to sleep when they are supposed to, but it's a sacrifice, a price to pay to experience something like this.